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Militants kill 2 soldiers, wound 12 in Thai south attacks

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 9 Mar 2012 12:08 GMT
Author: Reuters
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YALA, Thailand, March 9 (Reuters) - Two soldiers were killed and 12 wounded in brazen insurgent attacks on military bases and checkpoints in Thailand's troubled Muslim south on Friday, police said, the latest outbreak of separatist unrest in the region bordering Malaysia.

About 50 gunmen attacked a military base housing special forces in Narathiwat early on Friday, injuring 12 soldiers, police said. They fired M-79 grenades to bring down electricity pylons to block the road and damaged a waterworks office and a motorcycle car park.

A few hours later in Yala province, rebels attacked an army checkpoint and took two soldiers hostage. They bound their hands and feet with plastic cable, stole their weapons and shot them dead before fleeing, police said.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in Muslim-dominated Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani provinces since a low-level separatist rebellion from the 1970s resurfaced in 2004.

The region is more than 1,100 km (680 miles) away from the capital, Bangkok, and was part of an independent Malay Muslim sultanate until annexed by the predominantly Buddhist Thailand in 1909.

Despite flooding the region with more than 60,000 police officers and troops, the government has made little progress in quelling the unrest, for which no credible group has claimed responsibility.

The attacks came two days after four soldiers were killed in a roadside blast and a rubber tapper was shot dead. Both attacks were blamed on militants. (Reporting by Surapan Boonthanom; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Martin Petty and Daniel Magnowski)

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